The Challenge of Peoplehood: Strengthening the Attachment of Young American Jews to Israel in the Time of the Distancing Discourse

By Inbal Hakman, Shmuel Rosner

Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), April 2012

The claim that young American Jews are distancing themselves from Israel is rapidly  becoming a major preoccupation of those in charge of cultivating the Jewish People. This  paper shows that the claim of distancing is not supported by the data currently available  and argues that the conversation about distancing, as such, defeats the very purpose of  those who engage in it: to enhance the attachment of the American Jewish community to  Israel.

The relationship between the two largest Jewish communities, Israel and North America, is  complex. Both communities are undergoing a process of change, carrying both risks of genuine distancing in the future as  well as opportunities for building new models of partnership between the two communities. But parsing the relationship between the two communities along a binary model of  distance versus closeness fails to capture its complexity. Moreover, the distancing  discourse tends to exacerbate negative trends and thus risks becoming a self-fulfilling  prophecy. Instead, there is a need to promote the long-term programs that would bring the  world’s two largest Jewish communities even closer together.

This paper analyzes the conflicting hypotheses concerning distancing, identifies the weak  links in the research to date, and surveys the different aims served by the distancing  discourse. It then reviews the salient features of the changing relationship between the  Jewish communities of Israel and North America and proposes guidelines in response to the new relationship pattern between them.

Topic: Israel Education, Diaspora Relations, Israel-Diaspora Relations, Israel Attachment, Israel's Impact on American Jewry, Israel Advocacy, US-Israel Relations, Hasbara

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Genre: Report

Coverage: Israel , United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Hakman, Inbal. Rosner, Shmuel. The Challenge of Peoplehood: Strengthening the Attachment of Young American Jews to Israel in the Time of the Distancing Discourse. Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI). April 2012:


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